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CZU Lightning fires at 78,000 acres, 13 percent containment

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The CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 78,000 acres, and were 13 percent contained as of Monday morning.

Over 24,000 structures remain under threat, and 231 have been confirmed destroyed across both counties, officials said. Just over 1,500 firefighters are battling the blazes.

Cal Fire officials remained optimistic Monday due to favorable weather conditions. No known lightning strikes occurred in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz areas overnight despite a red flag warning in the state. The red flag warning was expected to last until 5 p.m. Monday.

The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among 367 wildfires that began last week throughout the state following 11,000 lightning strikes over a 72-hour period. The lightning strikes were caused by a tropical storm in the Pacific.

In the last 24 hours, more humid weather has allowed firefighters to make significant process on creating control lines to protect communities, particularly in the north end of the fire in San Mateo County. On the coast, some of the fires have self-mitigated due to the weather conditions, and a protective control line has been established around the community, officials said.

Control lines have also been established on the south end of the fire, including one from Highway 1 to Highway 9, to protect UC Santa Cruz and the City of Santa Cruz. Fire officials are “confident these lines are going to hold.” Felton is “still looking pretty good,” they added.

Meanwhile, dozens of law enforcement officials continue to monitor evacuation zones for suspicious people or for property owners attempting to return to their homes. Since Sunday night, three people were arrested in Santa Cruz County for being in the evacuation zone. Two of them were additionally arrested on outstanding warrants.

In San Mateo County, six people who entered the restricted areas to check on their properties had to be rescued due to encroaching fires. No injuries were reported during the rescue, officials said.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Headline image: UC Santa Cruz Police posted this photo thanking Brooke and Malia for creating a sign at the UC Santa Cruz main entrance expressing gratitude to first responders.

CZU Lightning fires at 71,000 acres, 8 percent containment

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The CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had reached 71,000 acres, and were 8 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

Cal Fire officials said favorable weather conditions allowed for progress to be made on the damaging blazes. Their optimism is tempered, however, as the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the region from 5 a.m. Sunday through 5 p.m. Monday due to possible weather events that could bring additional thunderstorms, lightning and winds.  This round is expected to be a weaker version than last week’s, when over 11,000 lightning strikes over a 72-hour period caused by a tropical storm in the Pacific sparked a flurry of wildfires across the state.

“We’re preparing for the weather change, but we’re hoping for the best,” San Mateo County Sheriff’s Det. Rosemerry Blankswade said during a press conference Sunday.

As of Sunday morning, the nearly week-old fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties continued to threaten over 24,000 structures, and had destroyed 129. The number of personnel assigned to the fires across had grown to 1,349.

In San Mateo County, where the fires are threatening the communities of Pescadero and La Honda, firefighters took advantage of improved weather conditions to use water-dropping helicopters and construct fire control lines. As of Friday, about 4,600 people in San Mateo County were under evacuation order and about 800 animals had been evacuated. Evacuation centers have been set up at Half Moon Bay High, which is at full capacity, and the San Mateo County Event Center.

On the south end of the fire, fire personnel continued to build fire lines above the UC Santa Cruz campus. Over by Highway 9 in Boulder Creek, firefighters “kept the fire well above [Boulder Creek], although smoke conditions were heavy” and they couldn’t build as many lines as they would have liked, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said. Firefighters also worked to create lines on a ridgetop to protect the community of Ben Lomond. Fire is widespread in Bonny Doon, but progress has been made in that community. Felton, where firefighters recently put out a spot fire, is “sitting very well,” Brunton said.

Officials continue to bemoan seeing people in the evacuation zones, as rescues have put first responders at risk and hampers resources needed for the fire fight. Dozens of law enforcement personnel are monitoring evacuated areas for potential looters. Five suspected looters were recently arrested, and more recently a firefighter’s truck was burglarized, personal items including his wallet was taken and his bank account was drained, Brunton said.

In San Mateo County, Blankswade expressed disappointment to see so many people still traveling to the coast and beaches despite closures.

“We really need to rally together  right now Bay Area,” she said. “You never know when this is going to be your town, your city and your homes. And if we can support each other now, it will build a better and stronger Bay Area when you might need it most. so please, don’t come to the beaches right now…do not come to the coast.”

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Headline image: CZU August Lightning Complex fires/Credit: Cal Fire CZU

The CZU Lightning Complex wildfires at 63,000 acres, 5 percent contained

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The CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County was at 63,000 acres, and was 5 percent contained as of Saturday morning, as Cal Fire officials said continued favorable weather conditions allowed for progress to be made on the damaging blazes.

Over 24,000 structures continue to be threatened, 97 are confirmed destroyed and over 64,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. Just over 1,100 personnel were working to battle the fires and protect structures, officials said.

Reduced wind and a marine layer helped mitigate fire conditions in the northern end of the fire on Friday — including in the areas of Pescadero and Loma Mar of San Mateo County, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said.

“We got some lines put it,” Brunton said, adding that while conditions are better the region is “still by far not out of the woods.”

Fire made a run in the Davenport community but the community “is still in good shape” with control lines firefighters are monitoring.

The blazes advanced again into Boulder Creek and the Ben Lomond areas, but fortunately it wasn’t a hard push into those communities, Brunton said.

A spot fire of about five acres invaded the Felton community, but firefighters were able to jump on it quickly.

Fire suppression teams scored a “big win” on the south end of the fire between Highway 1 an Highway 9, creating a fire line above the UC Santa Cruz campus and the communities of Santa Cruz and Capitola.

“It’s not bullet proof, not the silver bullet there, but it gives us a really good stronghold, a control point to keep the fire from moving southward into those communities,” Brunton said.

“We are putting a secondary fire break in that area,” he said.

In San Mateo County, evacuation centers have been set up at Half Moon Bay High and at the San Mateo County Event Center. Large animals are now being brought to the Cow Palace. Meanwhile, eight law enforcement teams are patrolling the northern evacuation areas to ensure the safety of people lingering in the area and to prevent looting of homes.

In Santa Cruz, where five suspected looters were recently arrested, 60 law enforcement personnel are on patrol, officials said.

The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among 367 known wildfires statewide that broke out following a 72-hour period of nearly 11,000 lightning strikes amid hot and dry conditions.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Headline image: CZU August Lightning Complex fires/Credit: Cal Fire CZU

CZU Lightning Complex fires now at 57,000 acres, 2 percent contained

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The CZU August Lightning Complex wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 57,000 acres, and was 2 percent contained as of Friday evening, as Cal Fire officials reported that more favorable weather has allowed for “slight” progress on the damaging blazes.

Still, the fires prompted by lightning strikes and hot temperatures are threatening over 24,000 structures and over 64,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. Damage inspectors report that 97 structures have been destroyed, and officials say the number will get into the triple digits as they search fire-ravaged areas. Just over 1,150 personnel were working to battle the fires and protect structures, officials said.

In Santa Cruz, the fire continued to progress throughout the San Lorenzo Valley and into the Highway 9 corridor, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said. The fires on the coast and in San Mateo County were tempered a bit by more favorable weather conditions, and that should continue overnight with reduced winds, Brunton said. But that will “only slightly” mitigate the situation, he added.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies in both counties are urging residents in evacuation zones to evacuate and not return to their homes unnecessarily, citing rescues that took critical fire personnel away from the fire battle. Meanwhile, dozens of sheriff’s are patrolling evacuated areas for potential looters.

In San Mateo County, evacuation centers have been set up at Half Moon Bay High and at the San Mateo County Event Center.

The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among 367 known wildfires statewide that broke out following a 72-hour period of nearly 11,000 lightning strikes amid hot and dry conditions.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Headline image: CZU Crew 1 conducting emergency evacuations at CZU August Lightning Complex fires/Credit: Cal Fire CZU

Quick Stop armed robbery under investigation

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San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies are searching for witnesses and video surveillance footage following an armed robbery at the Quick Stop Market in the 3400 block of Middlefield Road.

The suspect entered the store and brandished a firearm at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said. The suspect demanded the victim’s property and fled the area on foot.

“This case is under investigation,” the sheriff’s office said. “Deputies are conducting checks of the area for witnesses and video surveillance. Anyone who has information regarding this incident is encouraged to call the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Anonymous Tip Line at 1-800-547-2700.”

CZU Lightning Complex fires now at 50,000 acres, zero percent contained

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The CZU August Lightning Complex fires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 50,000 acres, and remained zero percent contained as of Friday morning, according to Cal Fire.

The number of residents evacuated jumped from about 48,000 people Thursday evening to over 64,000 Friday morning. Evacuation zones are highlighted in the above image. While officials have confirmed at least 50 structures have been destroyed, they say that number is likely to climb into the triple digits.

Over 1,000 fire personnel are responding and no injuries to civilians have been reported. Three first responders have suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Aerial attacks on the fire have been limited due to lack of visibility caused by smoke and fog conditions, officials said. A short-lived marine layer overnight somewhat helped to calm the fires along the coast, but that did not prevent their eastward march into Santa Cruz County, where the fires have impacted Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and farther south and caused additional structural loss, officials said. The City of Scotts Valley, population 12,000, was in the midst of evacuations, Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said.

In San Mateo County, evacuation zones include “every town west of 35 all the way up to Highway 1,” San Mateo County Sheriff’s Det. Rosemerry Blankswade said. Evacuated areas include Pescadero Beach Area, Pescadero Creek County Park area, Bean Hollow, Pescadero, San Gregorio, La Honda, Red Barn, Russian Bridge Open Space, Skylonda Area and Langley Hill. San Mateo County closed all parks due to the fires.

Fires are also happening on both sides of Highway 1. Officers went door to door overnight making evacuations.

“We are asking everybody to avoid coming to these coastal towns,” Blankswade said.

The evacuation center set up at Half Moon Bay High is full, so evacuees, especially those with RVs, trailers and large animals, are asked to go to a new center at the San Mateo County Event Center.

First responders are pleading with residents in evacuation zones to leave the areas and not try to save their homes or others. Three rescues have happened that put both the residents and first responders’ lives at risk, and kept first responders from working on the fire line, officials said.

The CZU August Lightning Complex fires were among 367 known wildfires statewide that broke out following a 72-hour period of nearly 11,000 lightning strikes amid hot and dry conditions.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Headline image: Evacuation zones for the CZU August Lightning Complex fires

CZU Lightning Complex fires grow to 48,000 acres, 20,952 structures threatened

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The CZU August Lightning Complex fires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 48,000 acres, destroyed at least 50 structures and remained zero percent contained as of Thursday evening,  according to Cal Fire. About 20,952 structures are threatened by the fire, up from 8,600 structures early Thursday.

Fire officials believe the number of structures damaged by the fires will reach the triple digits, “it’s just too early know what that exact number is,” officials said Thursday evening.

About 48,000 people who have been ordered to evacuate from areas threatened by the fires, officials said. In San Mateo County, about 3,600 people have been evacuated as the fire continues to threaten the communities of La Honda and Pescadero. That’s up from 1,100 residents evacuated as of Thursday morning, officials said.

San Mateo County areas previously considered warning areas for evacuations are now mandatory evacuation areas, including Pescadaro Beach, Pescadero Creek and the County park area, Bean Hollow, the town of Pescardaro, San Gregorio, La Honda, the Red Barn area, Russian Bridge and Sky Londa.

Displaced residents can go to Half Moon Bay High, an evacuation center, as well a new evacuation center at the San Mateo County Event Center.

In Santa Cruz, the fires have crested above the communities of Felton, Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek, moving down to Highway 9 just north of Ben Lomond, officials said.

The fires, which began over the weekend, were active throughout Wednesday and “overnight it became even more active,” Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said. “We had significant burning conditions that are unprecedented and unseen by veteran firefighters.”

The rapid approach of fire prompted a near last-minute evacuation of the community of Davenport on the Santa Cruz County coast, Brunton said. As of Thursday evening, the fires at Davenport had tampered a bit, but were still going.

There are no known injuries to civilians due to the CZU August Lightning Complex fires. A number of first responders have suffered minor injuries,  such as bee stings and minor lacerations, but no major injuries. An accident involving two firefighter vehicles caused minor injuries.

The blazes are among 367 known wildfires statewide that broke out following a 72-hour period of nearly 11,000 lightning strikes amid hot and dry conditions.

The large number of fires means an under-resourced battle in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, where the focus is on safe evacuations, officials said. But as of Thursday evening, the number of fire personnel battling the CZU August Lightning Complex fires nearly doubled to 997.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Photo credit: Cal Fire CZU San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit

Wag Hotels offer free pet boarding for wildfire evacuees

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Wag Hotels is offering complimentary boarding to those affected by the wildfires burning across California.

“We are able to provide bedding, food, and 24-hour care for both cats and dogs,” according to the business, which operates in 5,700 square feet of space at 1025 Hansen Way in Redwood City. “If you or someone you know is looking for a safe place to house their pets as a result of evacuations, please call 888-WAG-LINE.”

Wag Hotels also has centers in Santa Clara, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Hollywood, San Diego, Carson and West Los Angeles.

For more information, visit www.waghotels.com.

CZU Lightning Complex fires grow to 40,000 acres

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Lightning-caused wildfires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County had grown to 40,000 acres, destroyed at least 20 structures and remained zero percent contained as of Thursday morning,  according to Cal Fire. About 8,600 structures are actively threatened by the fires, known as the CZU August Lightning Complex fires.

Over 20,000 people have been evacuated from areas threatened by the fires, officials said. In San Mateo County, about 320 homes and over 1,100 residents have been evacuated as fire continues to threaten the communities of La Honda and Pescadero. An evacuation center has been moved from Pescadero High School to Half Moon Bay High School.

The fires, which began over the weekend, were active throughout Wednesday and “overnight it became even more active,” Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said. “We had significant burning conditions that are unprecedented and unseen by veteran firefighters.”

The rapid approach of fire prompted a near last-minute evacuation of the community of Davenport on the Santa Cruz County coast, Brunton said. People were evacuated safely from the community and fire suppression efforts continued Thursday morning.  Another significant overnight event was the fire moved west across Empire Grade Road, threatening structures on the eastern side and continuing its threat on the communities of Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond.

There are no known injuries to civilians due to the CZU August Lightning Complex fires. A number of first responders have suffered minor injuries,  such as bee stings and minor lacerations, but no major injuries.

The blazes are among 367 known wildfires statewide that broke out following a 72-hour period of nearly 11,000 lightning strikes amid hot and dry conditions.

The large number of fires means an under-resourced battle in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, where the focus is on safe evacuations, officials said.

Visit the regional evacuations portal for more information. Visit Cal Fire’s incident map for more information on the status of wildfires throughout the state.

Photo credit: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

San Mateo County declares emergency due to wildfires

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The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously on Wednesday unanimously proclaimed a local emergency as wildfires burned near Loma Mar and South Coast areas. The emergency proclamation makes the County eligible to receive federal funds for some costs associated with the response and “additional flexibility for staffing and purchasing,” the County said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the series of lightning-caused fires across San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties had burned over 10,000 acres, threatened over 6,000 structures and prompted the evacuation of over 22,000 people. About 1,000 residents were impacted in the San Mateo County communities of Loma Mar, Dearborn Park (west of Loma Mar), Pescadero Creek County Park area and other neighborhoods and communities, County officials said. An evacuation center has been established at Pescadero High School.

The most current evacuation information can be viewed here.

“My hope is that everyone takes these evacuation orders seriously so that we can minimize the loss of property and maximize helping individuals and families stay out of harm’s way,” Supervisor Don Horsley, whose District 3 encompasses the South Coast, said in a statement. “We are working hard to give everyone plenty of warning so that they can secure their valuables and their pets and in many cases their livestock. The threat from this is very real and my heart goes out to everyone impacted by it.”

For an overview of local response to the wildfires, visit here.

PHOTO: The San Mateo County’s Emergency Operations Center staff is working around the clock juggling two emergencies — response to the COVID-19 pandemic and now the August Lightning Complex fires. It is working with CAL Fire, local fire agencies and the County of Santa Cruz to notify residents about impending threats, establish evacuation routes and minimize the extent of the fire (Credit: San Mateo County).

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